Top Ten Tips for Transitioning Military Seeking Federal Careers

The following Top Ten Tips are based on the most frequent errors made by military when writing their federal resume and selecting federal careers—from Author, Instructor, and Federal Resume Guru, Kathryn Troutman.

  1. Resume format – Write a reverse chronological resume focusing on experience for the last ten years. Be sure to include specific facts for each position: title of your position (the military title), rank, name of your program or office, name of your base, city, state, zip and country.
  2. Great federal job translation tool – Use the website to translate your MOC to a GS federal position. Find real-time positions posted and learn which Occupational Series will work for you, based on your military experience.
  3. Three stories – Write at least three accomplishments that will demonstrate your value in the military. Write about an accomplishment that you achieved in terms of training, planning, technology, teamwork or team lead, supervision, and/or mentorship. The accomplishment will help your resume to stand out and GRAB the HR reviewer or the supervisor who is deciding who to interview.
  4. Builder – Use the USAJOBS resume builder to submit your resume to the HR reviewer and the supervisor. Follow the directions and do not be creative with the format and structure of the government resume. You will also need to fill out the Self-Assessment Questionnaire.
  5. Keywords – Analyze a sample target USAJOBS vacancy announcement for keywords and skills. You can find keywords by reading the announcement and finding words that repeat multiple times. Those repeated words and phrases should be featured in your resume.
  6. Five pages – Make your resume five pages at the most. Include positions and installations back to 15 years at the most.
  7. Skills are keywords too! Translate your skills into skills that are needed in your next position. Reduce the use of acronyms because the HR reviewers may not understand the acronyms.
  8. Add specialized skills – Be sure to add technology skills to the resume: computers, software, technology.
  9. Knowledge of laws – Add knowledge of regulations and laws that you are familiar with and utilize in your position. Examples of laws and regulations could be: FAR, OSHA, HAZMAT, etc.
  10. Two-page resume – Also keep a two-page resume that is your networking, job fair, and email resume for introductions. You can format the two-pager using an online template system, such as

That’s it for now. Good luck with your federal resume and applications. — Kathryn Troutman

Thank you for your service to America!

We are offering a FREE book (PDF download) with sample federal resumes for our military members. Fill out our Contact Form to request our Military to Federal Career Guide to see samples of successful federal resumes that can get you hired!

Request Your Free eBook
Get Federal Resume Help!
Our FREE newsletter gives you awesome advice on writing your best federal resume and mastering the USAJOBS application.
Sign up now!